Gotta Watch: The sky is falling
NASA graphic of the UAR satellite
September 23rd, 2011
09:30 AM ET

Gotta Watch: The sky is falling

NASA has announced that it expects a defunct satellite to tumble to Earth today, but scientists can't say exactly when or where. That's got some people worried. This isn't the first time that space junk has fallen from the sky, though. Gotta Watch brings you some of our favorites.

The clock is ticking – NASA says that a satellite will re-enter the atmosphere sometime today. More than two dozen pieces will remain intact and fall to the ground. CNN's John Zarrella looks at where it might hit.

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Free-falling – In September 2004, the Genesis space capsule, which was studying the sun, returned to Earth. The only problem - the parachute didn't open. The crash caused the samples that had been collected to be contaminated. Watch the spectacular plunge.

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Like a lead balloon – Balloons can cause major damage when they're the size of a football field. This NASA balloon crashed during takeoff in April 2010, smashing into a car and sending one man running for his life.

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Filed under: Earth • Gotta Watch • NASA • Space
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Chicken Little

    OMG OMG OMG!!!!

    September 23, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Johanna


      September 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chicken Little

    False alarm. Everybody go back to what you were doing.

    September 23, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. gung hoe

    Oh I HOPE I HOPE I HOPE That at some point today ,That Im driven down the road and a piece of that junk drops on my hood as Im at a red light how sweet would that be

    September 23, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Walker


      September 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gung hoe

    Hey skel not all of em we need to turn country around and sorry guys but its not going to be a liberal to do it Also good mourning guys plus beautiful banasy

    September 23, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. Twin 2

    NASA: what do you mean you don't know when or where this thing is going to hit!? You are some of the brightest minds in the country! ....Or did you pink slip the smart ones when the Space Program was closed? Sheesh!

    September 23, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      Twin2, you need to study up on orbital mechanics to know exactly why they can not pin point the "landing".

      September 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus Moore

      Seriously! They can determine the exact position of the moon 10,000 years from today but can't tell us when something the size of a bus is gonna fall out of the sky!

      September 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anh

      It is much easier to pin-point the landing should NASA has some control over the dead satellite. For now, it is just tumbling freely.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. purple rain

    They really have no idea as in there are equal chances anywhere? Then they say well the earth is 3/4 water so ok, that's 25% chance it lands over land, right? That's not really awesome odds. Just sayin'

    September 23, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I agree. But then you cut that 25% down to what is actually populated. Yes, this is, in a sense, careless, but there's nothing to fear here folks. Just like every other "scare".

      September 23, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Hoofleau

      And I wonder if it hits a populated area, if NASA can be sued.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Glorifundel

      Looking at population density maps, you could say at best 1/3 of that land is populated so if we say for the sake of argument water is 75% of the potential landing zone, then only 25/3 percent (8.3%) of the potential landing zone would be populated.

      Now of the 8.3% of the land which contains human habitation (homes towns cities etc) you have to consider a smaller number of that is actual people or structures that could be hit at any given time. So lets be generous, there is about a 5% chance that a building or person would be hit by this debris. Now if you want to calculate the likely hood of you specifically being that person divide 5 by the total population of the planet, and there is a very rough estimate of your individual risk factor.

      You are Significantly more likely to be killed by a car, or a plane, or by lightning.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. clw1234

    hearing a lot about this satellite but for some odd the news is failing to talk about comet elenin

    September 23, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jay

    Really? An article that starts with "Gotta"

    September 23, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Meestor Yay

    I hope it lands on a foreclosed home.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bucko

      There's a pretty good chance of that!!

      September 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • JenLaw

      There is a very good chance of that happening here in Michigan!!

      September 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bobcat2u

    I heard chicken little was wearing a depends didy in case he had an accident when the sky fell near him.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. greg

    A 30 second ad before every video. So annoying.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Xenon77

    CNN .. stop acting like a supermarket checkout tabloid. Get some journalists who can report news .. not manufacture it. The article is true .. but the headline screams "Fire the person who came up with it"

    September 23, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Judy

    Some of us live in the Pacific Ocean....don't forget Hawaii and our neighbors ..... watch out for us.....

    September 23, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Antonio

    OMG I hope it doesn't fall on me.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. hmmm

    There's little chance of any pieces hitting anybody, they say. This statement is not based on any fancy NASA science or really complex calculations.... just on the simple fact that the Earth is big and the pieces are small.

    I love statistics.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
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